When Tim Barton and Douglas Gray cofounded Barton & Gray Mariners Club in 2006, the duo envisioned the company’s membership, which offers unlimited access to a fleet of crewed yachts throughout the Eastern seaboard, as an alternative yachting experience for boat enthusiasts. While many experienced sailors came aboard, Barton and Gray quickly learned that the boating industry was leaving a lot of consumers behind. “Most of our members never dreamed of owning a boat,” Gray notes. “They don’t know how to operate it. They don’t want to clean or maintain it. With Barton & Gray, you don’t have to do anything. You show up to the boat and the captain has it ready.”
Initially founded in resort hotspots like Palm Beach, Nantucket, and Newport, Barton & Gray now has ports in major metro areas including New York City, Boston, Miami, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. “We’re in a unique position to provide a serene, spiritual experience on a quiet sandbar or a raucous New York City corporate dinner and everything in between,” Gray adds. Members enjoy not only the boats but the crew’s expertise in all of the active harbors, which Gray describes as “a role call of some of the most influential cultures in the world.” “Our captains have the capacity and knowledge to deliver these experiences in the water,” he says. “We know where to go swimming in New York City. We know the concierges at every restaurant in Nantucket, where to pull the boat up, and have a table ready.”
This elite experience comes standard in any of Barton & Gray’s three memberships, from the entry-level Ensign membership (which provides access to all of the fleet’s 36-foot boats) to the highest Admiral level for those who want it all. Most popular, Gray says, is the mid-tier Lieutenant card, which allows members access to the entire fleet (large yachts fit 12 passengers) and complimentary upgrades. “Members can bring out bring out a large group of loved ones—you can have multiple groups in different areas, you can serve big meals, and there’s plenty of storage,” he says.
Deeply ingrained in each of its ports, you can find Barton & Gray at a multitude of events throughout the year, including Ocean Reef of Key Largo, Art Basel in Miami, the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, and Nantucket’s Opera House Cup. The events help build brand awareness for newcomers and offer members a fun escape and easier way to travel while skirting the traffic by land. “The longer we’re in a market, the more people hear about us and wind up getting on board with an existing member or attending one of our events,” Gray says, noting that it is rare for members to leave the club. “It’s a testament to how much people love boating and how diverse boating can be.”